The Problem with Talent

What is talent?

Natural aptitude or skill.
“he possesses more talent than any other player”

a few synonyms:
flair, gift, knack, technique, skill, artistry

“Talent means the skill that someone has quite naturally to do something that is hard. Someone who has talent is able to do something without trying hard. It is an ability that someone is born with. It is a high degree of ability or of aptitudes. Someone who has talent is talented:”

“If someone has talent they still have to work very hard if they want to be very good at something. Some people become quite good at something even if they do not have much talent, but if they are willing to work very hard at the skill. Some people “waste their talent” (they have talent but do not work hard at it, they do not “use their talent”).”

And another:
“Talent is being able to manipulate one’s skills. Almost 85% of art-making is skill-based.”

So is there artistic talent? Is it all skill based? Or does talent transcends the skill?

Artistic talent is vision.

It’s the seeing before it becomes the tangible. It’s intuition expressed visually. And really no amount of practice will tap into the ability to ‘see’. However with artistic talent as the foundation of the skill, the sky is the limit!

Now the Problems

Underestimated. The problem with talent for the artist with vision is this. They underestimate this gift for vision; doesn’t everyone see from the imagination?

Doesn’t everyone see the shapes and faces in objects?

Just like the musician who can ‘hear’ the music before it’s composed, an artist can see the image before it’s made.


Implementation. So many visions, ideas and things to make. This is a problem. When there are so many ideas and no ‘strategy’ for implementation it becomes a hindrance. Nothing gets done.


Talent is enough. For the artist that has embraced their talent they can sometimes get into the mindset that the talent is enough. If they make it, the buyers will come. They make it, it looks awesome, they sit back… and nothing happens. Talent isn’t enough if you don’t know how to market yourself.


They compare. Vision and talent is a singular path. This is what makes your work unique. Popular culture and trends are all based on the same ideas re-purposed. Stay true to your vision and resist comparisons.

Annabel Sleeping - Lucian Freud.
Annabel Sleeping – Lucian Freud.

They wait. “When I’m inspired or in the mood I’ll make this.” If you’re in a business that is also related to your talent you need self discipline. You can’t wait for the mood to strike. You have to train yourself to produce on demand.

Banksy Girl with Red Balloon.
Banksy Girl with Red Balloon.

Undervalued. What is it about the art and design field that creates the ongoing struggle of value and worth? It seems as this field grows in history it becomes more undervalued. The Internet helps artists get the word out and provides a presence for artists to show their work and it also creates more competition from those that desperately give their work away. The more professional artists and designers undervalue and give their work and talent away, the more it hurts the entire industry.

How can the problem of talent be solved? Take these statements above and turn them around.

1. Implement your vision
2. Stay awake, sharp and be proactive
3. Stop Comparing
4. Be Self Disciplined
5. Charge your worth. Recognize your unique vision.

What do you think?

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